Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan insists that he's not giving up on his team's 2012 season, and that a postgame quote that indicated as much in the wake of Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers is being misinterpreted.
"To insinuate that I was giving up on the season is completely ridiculous," Shanahan told ESPN.com in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "We've got five NFC East games still on the schedule. Any time you have division games, you have a great chance."
The loss to Carolina dropped the Redskins to 3-6 as they head into their bye week. Before the game, Shanahan called it a "must-win," citing historical stats showing how difficult it was to reach the playoffs after starting 3-6. So after the loss, he was asked about the "must-win" comment and what it meant that the Redskins had lost.
"When you lose a game like that, now you're playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come," Shanahan said in his postgame news conference Sunday. "Now, we have a chance to evaluate players and see where we're at. Obviously, we're not out of it statistically. Now we find out what kind of character we have and how guys keep on fighting throughout the rest of the season.”
On Monday, Shanahan said it was not his intention to suggest that the Redskins were no longer playing for 2012.
"What I meant by that is, any time you have adversity, now you've got a chance to see all of these guys play every game the rest of the way like it's a playoff game," Shanahan said in the phone interview. "What you want guys to do when there's adversity is to play harder and play better, and that's when you see what kind of guys you have in your locker room."
Some Redskins players were taken aback when Shanahan's postgame comments were relayed to them Sunday afternoon. The Washington Post reported that two players who requested anonymity said they were bothered by their coach's comments.
Lorenzo Alexander went on record to the newspaper, expressing his disappointment at Shanahan's comments.
"I'm not thinkin' about next year. That's an offseason thing for me. But you know it's hard when you see yourself in that type of position and your head coach is saying those types of things. It's disappointing," the 29-year-old linebacker, in his sixth season with the Redskins, told The Post.
Asked if he felt the need to clarify those comments to the players, Shanahan said he did not know.
"I'll see how it goes today," he said.
Shanahan also said he was not planning on making any coaching staff chances during the bye week as Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid did three weeks ago when he fired his defensive coordinator.